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New Surveys Find Work-Related Stress Caused By Longer Hours And Erratic Schedules

Man looking stressed
17th December 2013

It’s long be recognised that stress is a common cause of workplace illness, accidents and injury. It’s certainly not unusual to find injury claims forms where increasing workloads, lengthening hours and shortened time schedules are all considered likely to have contributed to events which led to one or more accidents taking place.

In the current times of austerity, pressures on employees at work can build over fears of redundancy while employers worry if they can stay in business. In 2012, it was reported by the Health and Social Care Information Centre that there were nearly six and half thousand admissions for stress. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) cited “work related stress and anxiety” among 18,000 employees in the financial industries.

Stress not handled well

It’s not too surprising to learn that a new Ipsos MORI poll (on behalf of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work), has found that four in ten of respondents claim that “work-related stress is not handled well in their workplace” and nearly 2 in 10 state it is handled “not at all well”.

From the 16,000 interviews, which were carried out across 31 European countries, it was revealed by nearly three quarters that the most common cause of work-related stress is job insecurity or job reorganisation followed by two thirds who pointed to hours or workload as causing the most anxiety.

Around 50 per cent of all those canvassed stated that other important contributory factors include, a lack of support from colleagues or superiors, a lack of clarity on roles and responsibilities and limited opportunity to managed work patterns.

Life/work imbalance

Recent research conducted by global management consultancy, Hay Group, seems to reinforce the above findings. Once again, a life/work imbalance was perceived to be caused by a lack of organisation and adequate work scheduling, which placed unnecessary pressure and stress on the workforce. Of more than 600,000 UK employees surveyed nearly 4 in 10 felt their “professional and domestic life was not balanced”.

The study also found that in 2012, just half of employees reported that staffing levels in their department were adequate to complete the work required. Just under a third of employees also thought that their workloads were unreasonable.

According to the Hay Group "Employees are working longer hours with more erratic schedules than ever before”. Recent estimates suggest that 90 per cent of visits to GPs, doctor’s surgeries and health clinics are for the diagnoses of symptoms that are at least partially caused by stress and in the five years since the severe economic downturn of 2008 there has been a 50 per cent increase in hospital admissions.